Tuesday, 13 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures speaking to us about our responsibilities as those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, as Christians, in how we live up to our faith and in obedience to God and in following His laws and His ways. In the Epistle which St. Paul wrote to St. Titus, his protege and fellow leaders of the Church, St. Paul mentioned how we can be faithful and good Christians in our daily living.

First of all, it was mentioned how the teachings of the elders and those who preached the Gospel must be faithful, orthodox and of sound doctrine, so as to preserve the truth and keep the faithful in the path of righteousness and towards God’s salvation. And for the rest of the Christian community, each and every members must behave and act in ways that are in accordance with the path which God has shown all of us.

This is linked to what the Lord Jesus said in the Gospel passage today, as He told them using a parable of a servant with the master of the servant, in the matter of how the servant ought to act and behave as a servant. That is what is expected of us as those who follow and serve the Lord, in not expecting returns and satisfactions for ourselves, but rather, we do it instead for the greater glory of God.

This is not something that can be easily done, as we Christians are often affected by the many temptations in life, which caused us into the temptation of power, of glory, of fame and influence, that we end up beginning to desire for these worldly achievements that will likely end up causing us to lose our focus and attention on God, and this has happened many times among even us Christians and within our Church.

There were many occasions throughout the history of our Church when the members of the faithful, both laity and priests alike, jostled and fought one another for power and influence. There were times when the Church hierarchy and leadership were corrupt, and as a result, the Church was divided and broken, and became splintered into many pieces, as people became disillusioned and dissatisfied with the leadership of the Church.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is now up to us and our present generation to stand up to our true faith in God, to purify our faith and intention, our obedience to God and our way of life. We are God’s servants, and therefore, it is only right that we should upheld His precepts and ways, and practice them wholeheartedly in our own lives. We must turn our hearts to Him and devote our time, effort and attention to serve Him.

Let us all be mindful of what St. Paul said in the Epistle today, that all of us ought to reject the irreligious and ungodly way of life, and embrace fully God, His truth and His ways with real faith and courage. This will require effort from us, the willingness and desire to seek the Lord through our commitment to His way, even in the midst of possible opposition and disapproval from the world and from all those who subscribe to the ways of this world, of greed, desire, pride and all those.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore grow ever stronger in our faith and in our commitment to Him. Let us all seek to love Him ever more, day after day, following the examples of our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs, all those who have resisted the temptations to sin, or sinned and then repented, and devoted themselves wholly to God from then on.

And let us also pray for our Church leaders and those who have been entrusted as shepherds of the people of God. May the Lord be with all of them and guide them in their ministry, just as He guide us in our faith and life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 17 : 7-10

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Who among you would say to your servant, coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Go ahead and have your dinner?’ No, you tell him, ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron, and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterwards.'”

“Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? I do not think so. And therefore, when you have done all that you have been told to do, you should say, ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.'”

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 18 and 23, 27 and 29

For they will fade as any green herb and soon be gone like withered grass.

The Lord watches over the lives of the upright; forever will their inheritance abide. The Lord is the One Who makes people stand, He gives firmness to those He likes.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. The righteous will possess the land; they will make it their home forever.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Titus 2 : 1-8, 11-14

Let your words strengthen sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be sober, serious, wise, sound in faith, love and perseverance. The older women in like manner must behave as befits holy women, not given to gossiping or drinking wine, but as good counsellors, able to teach younger women to love their husbands and children, to be judicious and chaste, to take care of their households, to be kind and submissive to their husbands, lest our faith be attacked.

Encourage the young men to be self-controlled. Set them an example by your own way of doing. Let your teaching be earnest and sincere, and your preaching beyond reproach. Then your opponents will feel ashamed and will have nothing to criticise.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, teaching us to reject an irreligious way of life and worldly greed, and to live in this world as responsible persons, upright and serving God, while we await our blessed hope – the glorious manifestation of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus. He gave Himself for us, to redeem us from every evil and to purify a people He wanted to be His own and dedicated to what is good.

Monday, 12 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the important traits of God’s chief servants and the leaders and elders among the communities of the faithful, then named as overseers and elders. They were the ones who would in time become the first bishops of the Church, as those who were entrusted with the responsibility over the faithful in a certain geographical area.

In what St. Paul shared to St. Titus in his Epistle to him, he mentioned the characteristics of those who are to be chosen as bishops to lead the Church of God, to build up the foundations of the Church in the areas where at that time, it was still growing rapidly. St. Titus himself was also a bishop of the Church, one of the first among those whom the Apostles including St. Paul appointed as their successors in the government and management of the Church.

The bishops must have good qualities of the faith and also in leadership by example. They could not be those who were corrupt and wicked in their ways, or else the faith and the Church would be scandalised. They must be men of good character and showed great commitment to the Lord, which are important traits that all those who are serving the Lord ought to have in their lives and in their ministry.

These are important requirements for those who were called and chosen to be the good shepherds imitating the examples of the one, true Good Shepherd of all, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And they were given enormous responsibilities, that involves the very fate of many souls of man, which if not carefully and correctly managed, could cause those souls to be lost to God forever.

That was what the Lord Jesus mentioned when He said in the Gospel that, those who caused scandal for the faith, the Church and the faithful by their actions were truly not deserving of the Lord and His grace, for by their actions, deeds and maybe words, they have caused others, especially the vulnerable ones like children and others, to fall away from the faith, or to suffer the consequences of the former’s actions.

And sadly, this is what has happened in our Church throughout its long history, and even to this very day. There are scandals facing the Church, its priests, even bishops and the leaders that caused discomfort, pain and suffering among the members of the Church and the faithful, and this has caused some among the faithful to lose faith in God and His Church, and left the true faith behind.

Today, we ought to pray for the Church, for us all the faithful who believe in God, the members of His Church, and especially also for all those who have been called and chosen to become the shepherds of the faithful, that is the priests and bishops. Let us all pray for them, that they may remain faithful and committed to the service of God, and not to be tempted by Satan, the great enemy, who no doubt is trying to destroy the Church and us by attacking and tempting the holy priests and bishops.

We pray that they may have the courage to live up to their faith and calling, and following in the examples of the holy Apostles and martyrs, and especially today we celebrate the feast of a holy servant of God and courageous martyr of the faith, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, who was an Eastern Catholic bishop living during the contentious time when the foundations for the Eastern Catholic churches were made, at the time when some of the prelates from the breakaway Eastern Orthodox Church wanted to restore communion and unity with Rome and the Pope.

Thus, historically, through the Union of Brest in the year of Our Lord 1596, some of the Eastern prelates and priests declared their obedience to the Roman Catholic Church, the true Church of the Apostles and the Church of God, together with a number of the faithful. But tensions and problems did not end there, and in fact, they began to foster and create difficulties for those who have decided to reunite with the Roman Pontiff.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was counted among these courageous prelates who as the bishop and Archeparch in the Ruthenian area of the church, among which there were still many who refused to accept the reunion with the Roman church, and hence, it gave St. Josaphat a lot of problems and difficulties, each of which he took upon patiently and with great faith. In the end, he faced martyrdom in the hands of angry mob who refused to believe in the truth of God.

But his courage and perseverance should be an inspiration to each and every one of us, and especially for those who have been called and chosen to the holy orders. Therefore, let us all pray together as one Church, calling upon God to be with His Church, to protect us and to guide us in our journey, that we will remain faithful and strong despite the challenges we may encounter on our way. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us all in our endeavours. Amen.